Leeds Carnegie’s Championship play-off ambitions were dealt a huge blow as saw their eight-game unbeaten run came to an end at London Welsh.
Despite leading at one stage through a James Doherty try, four penalties from former Headingley favourite Gordon Ross and a try from winger Seb Stegmann proved decisive.
Having seen his side lose their first game since November, boss James Lowes said: “The effort is second to none and they work really hard for each other.
“We let them into the game with our mistakes and apart from the try, we gifted them their points.”
Former Leeds fly-half Ross kicked three points on 30 metres to open the scoring.
Minutes later, Carnegie were penalised at the breakdown for coming in from the side, but Ross’ 45-metre effort from the near touchline dropped short.
Excellent work at the scrum earned Leeds their first penalty when London Welsh were pinged for coming up, but Hughes pulled his kick wide.
Leeds ended the first half with 14 men after Doherty was sent to the sin-bin for a punch.
The home side doubled their lead when a Leeds scrum stood up. But the Leeds scrum continued to hold up well and, having won a penalty on five metres, smart thinking from Doherty to take a quick penalty tap saw him slalom his way over for the first try. Hughes converted. Having worked hard to gain the lead, Carnegie threw it away minutes later when they were penalised for offside in their own 22 and Ross kicked the three points. There was then a momentary stoppage when referee Martin Fox was replaced by his assistant Phil Walters because of injury, but despite the change of official, the penalty count against Leeds at the scrum increased and the monster boot of Ross scored his fourth penalty of the afternoon from halfway.
Despite their five-point advantage, Welsh let Leeds back into the game with a kickable penalty on 20 metres and Hughes kicked his first of the afternoon after captain Jacob Rowan had pointed to the posts.
A moment of good fortune then allowed Welsh to extend their lead. A Ross kick towards the Leeds line bounced kindly back into play and Seb Stegmann was quickest to react, holding off a couple of defenders to crash over.
London Welsh: Awcock, Stegmann, May (Robinson 78), Parker, Scott, Ross, Cook (Frost 72), Hepburn (Vella 56), Morris (Trevett 56), Edwards (Tideswell 56), Lees, Browne, Thorpe (Denbee 69), Kirwan, Stedman (Nimmo 63).
Leeds Carnegie: Holmes, Griffin (D Doherty 72), Burdon, Clarke, Vickerman, Hughes, J Doherty (Hampson 51), Harris (Imiolek 63), Nilsen (Graham 68), Hooper (Currie 63), Hannay (C Walker 56), Myerscough (Casson 48), Beck, Rowan, Burrows.
Referee: Martin Fox (RFU).